Basic Skills Coordinator Training

These are notes taken during the two training meetings listed below.  You may download the presentations from the following link:

October 16 – 17, 2008 at Canada College, 4200 Farm Hill Blvd., Redwood City, CA Agenda
November 13 – 14, 2008 at North Orange Co CCD/Noncredit, 1830 Romneya Dr., Anaheim, CA Agenda

One cross disciplinary basic skills leader from each campus (i.e, BS Coordinators, deans, and/or the lead campus representative for basic skills programs) is invited to participate in our first two-day basic skills coordinators workshop as part of the BSI Phase III series of regional training meetings. The agenda includes the role of the basic skills coordinator, developing action plans in a shared governance format, staff development, buy-in from faculty and administration, linking to K-12 outcomes, and sharing of challenges and programs. Adjunct issues will be integral to these discussions.


Role of the Basic Skills coordinator. 2

What We Know.. 3

Coordinator as Organizer. 3

Why is it important?. 4

How Do We Get to “Highly Coordinated”?. 4

Start with the Data. 4

How would you go about starting to get these things accomplished on your campus?. 4

Traits of a Highly Coordinated Program.. 5

What Are Some Major Hurdles?. 5

Finding Solutions Together. 6

Practice What We Preach. 6

Hurdles Revisited…... 6

Staff Development. 7

“Getting Results” funded by the National Science Foundation. 7

Valencia Community College: Adjunct Faculty Program.. 7

Faculty Inquiry Groups (FIGs): Lynn Wright. 7

A Major Observation about Faculty Practice. 7


Other Ideas. 10

Buy-in. 12

Adjunct Issues. 14

Compensation. 14

Lack of connection to the campus. 15

Multiple campuses. 15

Lack of job security. 15

Continuity. 15

Program Structure Discussion. 16

Faculty Survey for Basic Skills Professional Development. 18



          BSI Project Director: Barbara Illowsky, De Anza College

          Program Coordinator: Anniqua Rana, Cañada College

          Program Coordinator: Nancy Cook, Sierra College

          Program Coordinator: Joan Cordova, Orange County College

Role of the Basic Skills coordinator

Job Description—

X Community College is currently seeking to hire an experienced, dynamic, and committed team-player to direct an externally funded, multi-dimensional, multi-year basic skills initiative focused on the needs of basic skills students and instructors. 

Be able to think outside the box while working within it

Work long hours with no staff support, stable budget, or job security

Anticipate problems so they don’t materialize but solve problems when they do, all without alienating stakeholders or fueling the ill will of competing groups

Remain thick-skinned to the people who are actively planning your demise and the demise of the change you represent

Be able to balance the common perception that you will either save education as we know it or that you will go the way of all other faddist reformers

Work around processes and people that put up roadblocks and often resist because what you are trying to do has never been tried before

Be at peace with the fact that there are extremely few people on or off campus that you can turn to in order to help you put out the fires, answer the questions, solve the problems, complete the records, interpret the data, commiserate about shared difficulties, or even celebrate fleeting victories

Be willing to go it alone and largely work in isolation, and be confident enough to allow others to take all the credit

Live with the possibility that once you stop doing what you’re doing, there’s no person, process or support for replacing you

Be grateful for those students who contact you to tell you that against all odds, your program singularly transformed their lives

Developed by Deborah Harrington, LA Valley College and Brock Klein, Pasadena City College



·         Negative side:  coordinators’ roles are immense, unruly, poorly defined, and nearly impossible to complete

·         Positive side: coordinators organize many campus efforts, courses, services, and activities serving underprepared students and get to see the huge difference they make in students’ lives 

What We Know

·         The Basic Skills Coordinator must possess a vision beyond developmental education efforts, integrating efforts and educating faculty in all other disciplines and CTE courses and services

·         Centralized and Decentralized

·         Centralized—there is a specific, single department that houses all basic skills classes and support services

·         Decentralized—all classes and support services are housed within their own departments/divisions

·         Pages 16-17, Poppy Copy

·         If decentralized, then the program should be “highly coordinated”

Coordinator as Organizer

ž  What is a “highly coordinated” basic skills program? What does it mean?


Participant Responses

Highly coordinated

Communication with each other

Everyone is involved in the planning process

Compound meeting so that everyone doesn’t have to go to every meeting

Student representatives

Faculty from all departments and classified staff

Developmental ed paradigm and principles-Hunter Boylan

Everybody acknowledges the need for student success

Need for concerted effort



ž  Why should we have a “highly coordinated” program?

Participant Responses

Maximizes all the practical efforts like resources.

Leads to retention

You have “math and English people actually talking”

If you don’t have just a coordinated program people in the same discipline don’t talk to each other across campuses of the same college.


Why is it important?

·         The Primary Reason: Students

·         From Admissions and Records to Registration to Financial Aid to Counseling to the classroom—

·         students  are not concerned with each individual department’s excellence,

·         but rather the alignment of these disparate parts of their educational experience, working together to create a pathway that students can use to achieve their academic dreams. 

How Do We Get to “Highly Coordinated”?

·         Page 4, Chapter 18—most coordinators are new, having served for 1 ½ years or less

·         Most don’t know for how long they will serve

·         Most have less than 100% reassigned time, yet their workload requires that them to have 100% release time

·         Many don’t have job descriptions

·         Many schools don’t have an organized process for hiring coordinators—most are appointed by administrators

Start with the Data

·         Establish term lengths for coordinators

·         Work toward100% release

·         Write job descriptions—samples in Appendices of Chapter 18

·         Create organized hiring processes for future coordinators


How would you go about starting to get these things accomplished on your campus?

·         Who would you go to first?  Who could help you?

Participant Responses

VP of instruction, Academic Senate, Vice President, BS Coordinating committee, Business office people.


Traits of a Highly Coordinated Program

·         Regular meetings of all those involved in the delivery of basic skills courses and services

·         Articulation of common goals and objectives for all basic skills courses and services

·         Integration of basic skills courses and academic support services

What Are Some Major Hurdles?

·         Lack of structure for your program—ties in with lack of job description

·         Lack of authority as the coordinator

·         Knowing how to “make things happen”

·         Some college-level faculty want you to “fix” those underprepared students

·         Keeping your committee focused and on track

·         Lack of support from your administrator(s)

·         The dreaded one-level-below transfer courses—Basic Skills or not?


Participant Responses

Addtional Hurdles:

Working within the time frame to use the money

Keeping a record of the spending

Finding Solutions Together

·         Build a network of coordinators in your regional area

·         Meet periodically to discuss problems and solutions

·         Use a listserv to discuss ideas—(we have one—if you’d like to join contact Nancy)

·         Organize “think tank” workshops on your campus and invite coordinators from across the state

·         Get to know a coordinator from Northern California—get ideas from the North—branch out, make connections

Practice What We Preach

·         If you could pick only one “hurdle” to work on and try to find solutions for, which hurdle would that be? 

·         Pick your hurdle, stand up, stretch, look around at the other participants, and move around the room. 

·         Ask everyone you see if they have the same hurdle you do.

·         When you find your “hurdle-pal,” brainstorm with one another about solutions to this hurdle.  

Hurdles Revisited…

·         Lack of structure for your program—ties in with lack of job description

·         Lack of authority as the coordinator

·         Knowing how to “make things happen”

·         Some college-level faculty want you to “fix” those underprepared students

·         Keeping your committee focused and on track

·         Lack of support from your administrator(s)


Participant Responses

It’s helpful to know you’re not alone.




Staff Development

“Getting Results” funded by the National Science Foundation


Valencia Community College: Adjunct Faculty Program

          When hired, each adjunct is given a USB drive with the PT faculty handbook loaded on it.  It also contains discipline-specific handbooks. 

          There are a slate of courses that adjunct faculty can take for staff development. 

          Associate Faculty Certificate Program: Adjuncts take up to 60 hours of training.  When they complete the 60 hours, they receive a certificate, and they receive business cards that say they are associate faculty.

          The college uses retention rates as an evaluation of adjuncts, but they take a very counseling approach.  If retention rates are not high, then they try to help adjunct faculty become better with their teaching. 

          Adjuncts receive handouts and are assigned to a mentor faculty member where they can talk about subject area issues or other problems.  For the mentor faculty, this is considered part of their workload.

          There is a special tea or coffee with the president for outstanding adjunct faculty. 

          Valencia has hired a FT adjunct coordinator and has an Adjunct Faculty Committee that meets regularly

Faculty Inquiry Groups (FIGs): Lynn Wright


Promoting Inquiry to Transform Faculty Practices

 Lynn Wright, Pasadena City College

Teaching and Learning Center

A Major Observation about Faculty Practice

Teachers experience tension between the way they should teach and the way they actually teach. 

Most adjust to the misalignment.

·         Examples of Misalignment

·         Coverage

“I know I’m going too fast, but I have to cover ten chapters.”

·         Reading and Writing

“My students need to read and write well to succeed in my class, but I’m not an English teacher.”

·         Lectures

“Lectures bore me too, but that’s the way it is.”

·         Tests

“She demonstrated her knowledge of the material over and over in class but failed the test.”

·         Affective components

“My students are so poorly prepared to be college students, but it’s not my job to teach them those things.”

·         Achieving Alignment

·         The most important reason to do faculty inquiry is

1.       To transform our attitudes and practices

2.       To foster collegiality

3.       To gain a deeper understanding of teaching and learning

·         Why Engage in Inquiry?

1.       To gain a deeper level of understanding of teaching and learning

2.       To transform our attitudes and practices

3.       To improve student success

·         What is Faculty Inquiry?

It’s a structured, ongoing process that is…

·         faculty-driven

·         problem-based

·         outcomes-driven

·         collegial and collaborative

·          Intermediate Algebra



·         Intermediate Algebra FIG
Participants and Resources

·         1 full-time math faculty lead

·         6 full-time math faculty

·         The math dean

·         1 non-math faculty facilitator

·         PCC’s Teaching and Learning Center (TLC)  staff, counselor, and tutors

·         PCC’s Institutional Planning and Research Office

·         Claremont Graduate University external evaluators

·         Carnegie Foundation staff and SPECC participants

·         FIG Outcomes


•Identify challenges to

                teaching Intermediate



•Develop approaches to help overcome key challenges to teaching Intermediate Algebra


•Increase student success

n  Which one is not a feature of the FIG process?

  1. Problem-based
  2. Always collaborative
  3. Outcomes driven
  4. Faculty-driven

n  FIG Discoveries

n  Word problems are hard: students avoid them and teachers struggle to teach them

n  Too much material to cover

n  New concepts in last chapters rushed through (run out of time)

n  Hard to find time to show students real-world applicability

Intermediate Algebra FIG

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Windows on Learning

n  Possible FIG Questions


•How much time should we spend on “non English” issues?

•How engaging are our online resources?


•If we reduce the number of concepts covered, how will we affect student learning?

•Are there different assessment forms we can use to address diverse learning styles?

n  Two Reasons Why Inquiry Is Essential to Our Practice…

1.   Diverse and ever-changing student population results in diverse and ever-changing challenges.

2.   Practice What We Preach!

        Are we not critical thinkers, problem solvers, knowledge builders, and lifelong learners?

n  FIG Action Plan

n  Ask a research question/Identify a problem

n  Create a hypothesis

n  Review the secondary research

n  Create outcomes

n  Conduct primary research

n  Review and evaluate

n  Disseminate findings

What are your questions about students and student learning?

Participant Responses

Once you have found a way of working on FIGs, you can work on it on your own campus.  It can be fun!

What incentive is given to faculty to become involved?

The group that comes together creates a proposal for what kind of support they will need.  The application can be supported with an honorarium or stipend.

How much do the clickers cost?

Varied responses (with book bundles-bookstores can also sell and buy back)



Other Ideas

ž  The Web site contains professional development sites from many colleges and universities where you can get ideas.  Valencia’s site is included.  This Web site was developed by the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE). 

ž  Another site to visit is   This is an article that includes information about a new company called “Adjunct Success” that provides adjuncts with a range of Web-based resources. 

ž  Go to the National Association for Developmental Education Web site at

ž   NADE has a national conference each year that is excellent

            This year’s conference is February 25-28 in Greensboro, NC

           California is considering starting its own chapter of NADE—we could have great conferences right here in California!




Administrator: Katie Townsend-Merino, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Cañada College

College-level: Salumeh Eslamieh, Basic Skills Coordinator, Cañada College

ž  Basic Skills Buy-in

ž  Why faculty wanted to participate

"After reading the poppy copy, I was convinced that this funded statewide initiative is one of the most important educational movements in the state, and I wanted to be part of this important work.”

"I wanted to participate in a cross-campus work group to increase student success in the basic skills classes, especially since these are the majority of our students.”

"I have a deep commitment to increasing the educational attainment levels of our students and a desire to stop worrying about transfer enrollments-- we will not have any students if we do not help our basic skills students move up.”

"I believe that all of our students and faculty have concerns that revolve around the basic skills issues of our students, and the basic skills committee is a place to tackle that.”

"I wanted to improve the retention of students in developmental levels.”

"I joined to get help developing and expanding the student tutoring program that reaches out to students who lack necessary skills to succeed in transfer courses.”

"The Learning Center holds workshops and provides tutoring across the curriculum, so I believe that the basic skills initiative can support us."

Fall 2007

ž  Large Task Force

ž  Collected Data

ž  Conducted Assessment

ž  Faculty and staff influenced by data and convinced that basic skills is important

ž  Spring 2008

ž  Constructing Basic Skills Committee

ž  Overcame challenges from internal senate issues around committee existence and structure

ž  Invited all faculty to join

ž  Personally approached faculty who appeared to already be concerned with the basic skills issues of their students

ž  Struggled for participation from counseling…now they’re committed!

ž  Still struggling for participation from Math

ž  What Helps

Having faculty who are interested in education as a tool of social justice

Having a committed administrator who can convince other administrators and break down bureaucratic boxes

Data and numbers

ž  What We Learned

E-mail is not enough

Adjunct involvement is hard to get

Just a flashy flier won’t sell

So…You have to talk to people one-on-one

ž  Fall 2008                             

ž  Our committee consists of 17 people, representing departments across the campus; the members include Counseling, ESL, Reading and English, Accounting and Finance, History, Learning Center, Math, Art History, and Student Services, as well as three deans.

ž  Implementation of First Project
Crossing Borders


Participant Responses

Collaborations with other colleges promotes learning and innovation.

Make personal connections helps more than email.

More information about the Crossing Borders Program:

San Francisco State Professors: Helen Gillote and Sugie Goen for Professional Development

History Reading Workshop

Details about the   Faculty Survey for Basic Skills Professional Development used at Canada college.



Adjunct Issues

Adjunct: Joan Cordova, Orange Coast College

 “Often part-time faculty members are not given the professional respect to have adequate preparation time for a course or to participate in the curriculum and pedagogical decisions of the courses they teach.”  The Use of Part-Time Faculty in California Community Colleges:  Issues and Impact , Spring 1996

 “The problems created by decades of arbitrary use and abuse of part-time faculty, motivated largely by fiscal exigency demanded by chronic underfunding, are complex and interdependent.”  Part-Time Faculty:  A Principled Perspective,  Spring 2002

2008 Summer Institute

l  Number of individuals - 67. 

l  Teaching experience totaled 473 years, with a range of 0 - 42. 

l  They averaged 7.6 years of teaching.

l  Total number of schools was 95. 

l  66 different schools represented. 

l  The range of schools per individual was 1 - 4 with an average of 1.5 schools.

l  Adjunct Issues


·         Add an incentive for attending functions.

o   Meeting – lunch included

·         Cafeteria “Bucks” as prizes at training sessions.

·         Hourly salary for additional training.

·         Tutor provided for class.

·         Add an incentive for attending functions.

·         Meeting – lunch included

·         Cafeteria “Bucks” as prizes at training sessions.

·         Hourly salary for additional training.

·         Tutor provided for class.

·         Stipend for completing program.


Lack of connection to the campus

No office, No place to meet with students, Uninformed about campus/department activities

·         Lack of connection to campus

·         The highest ranking challenge of the adjunct faculty on a campus is they have no sense of belonging - no office, no space to meet with students, etc.  If we are trying to reach the adjunct, having a central location would provide a connection and organization. 

·         Office space

·         Desk space

·         USB to organize your materials on

·         Many other ways to connect to the campus.


Multiple campuses

·         Teaching on multiple campuses?

·         Are there projects that can be addressed by sister colleges coordinating efforts?

Lack of job security

·         This might be addressed by administration by asking for priority scheduling for adjunct instructors completing the project.

·         Lack of job security


·         Is it possible to mark Basic Skills sections as a priority for the adjunct instructors completing the project?

 “Often part-time faculty members are not given the professional respect to have adequate preparation time for a course or to participate in the curriculum and pedagogical decisions of the courses they teach.”  The Use of Part-Time Faculty in California Community Colleges:  Issues and Impact , Spring 1996


Participant Responses

Share offices with part-timers

Giving credit for attending workshops

USB drive with information for adjunct instructors

Share handouts, syllabi and texts

Office administrator positive attitude helps create an environment of collaboration

Well-structured adjunct orientations





Program Structure Discussion

ž  Basic Skills Program structure confusing and unwieldy for many

ž  Work together to come up with possible structure ideas

ž  Get in groups of 4 or 5

ž  Discuss, draw diagram of possible structure, provide brief written summary, provide a few major “job description” duties of coordinator (tell whether faculty—one or more—or administrator)

ž  Put on flip chart paper; then hang on wall

ž  Example in your packet

ž  Funding


          Adult Basic Education and Basic Skills





Faculty Survey for Basic Skills Professional Development

Cañada College 2008


Basic Skills- “foundation skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and English as a Second Language, as well as learning skills and study skills, which are necessary for students to succeed in college-level work” (Basic Skills Initiative Homepage


  1. Which problems/issues do you see your under-prepared students facing - related to basic skills?
  2. Which problems/issues do you face as you try to teach your under-prepared students- related to basic skills?
  3. What would you do if you had time- related to basic skills?
  4. Which basic skills related workshops would you like to see at Cañada College?
  5. Would you be willing to conduct- present- create a panel- facilitate- attend- have any involvement in- a basic skills related workshop series?      (please circle all that apply)
  6. Would you like to conduct a basic skills related workshop?  What would be the topic- related to basic skills?
  7. Would you like to recommend a person (group of people) to present a topic- related to basic skills?
  8. What else would you like to communicate to the Basic Skills Committee?